It’s Father’s Day – call Dad!

During my second year in Seminary, I was taking a course designed to teach students how to “preach the Word.” The course was quite interesting; we were taught basic principles about how to formulate sermons, but then each of us had the opportunity to preach openly during class sessions. Many topics were covered; and it was a blessing to hear a variety of students declare the Lord’s messages that He laid on their hearts.

Many students were already good preachers, but I remember one in particular that caught my attention because of his opening prayer. He didn’t begin “Dear Heavenly Father….”  Instead, he prayed “Dear Daddy….”  What came after that was a prayer as sincere as any other I had ever heard.

Unfortunately though, I was caught off guard, even offended that he would refer to my Lord as “Daddy.” He even had the nerve to refer to the Bible during his prayer as his “Daddy’s Love Letters.”

What came next was a deep introspection into my heart about why I felt that way. Had he offended God? Did he really do anything wrong? Was God really “Daddy?”

I must admit that I struggled to listen closely to his sermon because of all that was going on in my heart and mind. But then I realized that it was all ok. God is our Daddy. He is our Heavenly Father, but a Father so close to us, we shouldn’t be ashamed to call Him Dad, Daddy, or other term of endearment.

Sometimes as Christians, we can get caught up in the specific words a pastor or another member uses when preaching, praying, or during a business meeting. We may even get offended to the point we are ready to “jump ship,” moving over a block or two to the next Baptist church along the road. But why? Is it because of false teaching, or just differences of opinion?

When I get home from work, I can’t wait to hear Wesley joyfully say “Daddy’s home!”  I think God would probably say something similar about how He can’t wait for us to call him (that is, say a prayer), even if it starts with “Dear Daddy….”

Did she really go there? Oh yes she did!

(This occurred just a couple days ago to a dear friend, posted via Facebook*)

Friend: Today I was walking around a store that I have a gift card for, and it seemed that everything I picked up was way more expensive than the gift card value… no surprise there! However, while I was looking, a lady and her daughter were also looking around…. This is how the conversation went:

Lady: Oh good grief, these clothes!

Friend: Yes, I know! They are more expensive than I thought.

Lady: Expensive?

Friend: Yes, my $25 gift card is not going to do much . . . sadly.

Lady: I was wondering why my daughter wanted to buy such cheap nasty stuff!

Friend: (Looking slightly embarrassed) . . . Well, if you shop wisely, you can get good value for your money.

Lady: I don’t need to do that . . . and at your age, neither should you.

Friend: (not knowing what to say and sending a prayer to God for help) . . . Well, God has given me all I need! The gift card was a bonus from my kids at school.

Lady: (Looking long and hard at friend….then walked away…)

God – 10 points
Lady – ZERO!

What do you think? Has God provided you everything you need? Or do you still seek comfort in material things? Maybe you are seeking approval from friends or peers. After being imprisoned, Paul wrote this:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. … Indeed, I have all and abound. – Philippians 4:11, 18a, (NKJV)

He realized that even though he had nothing, he had everything he needed. His message about Jesus Christ was being spread among the nations. He went on further to tell other believers:

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

Are you allowing God to supply your needs, or are you trying to do it by yourself?

Material possessions will rot and fade away, but God’s love will abide forever (Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 12:15, Matthew 16:26)

* Paraphrased and edited for content

The Glory and Mystery of it all

Many of you know that I am in the middle of finishing our downstairs basement. During the contracting process last year to build our house, we made the decision to leave our basement unfinished to save money. And I believe we have saved lots of money by doing the work ourselves.

As I continue to work through the rooms – designing, wiring, framing, and finishing the walls, I have discovered a revelation. Without blueprints, it’s hard to know what to do, where, and when. Although I have the general layout for each room complete, the minor details of where to place light switches, electrical outlets, and built in shelving continues to slow down my progress. We have even changed our mind several times on which section is the priority downstairs. And I’ve changed my mind on where to put outlets, and which circuits they’ll be on. I’ve thought, and rethought how I’ll design the ceilings. The list is endless on the changes and delays we have incurred.

And then it hit me….

I’m only doing a basement! So far, it’s taken me about 6 months (granted real work time is more like 2-3 weeks, however….)

Look at what God did in 6 days! “And on the 7th day, God rested1

Wow, He visualized, designed, and created all that we have; all that we are; all that we will ever be by Himself. And then he has continued to carry out His plan, without diverting from it. He decided thousands of years ago that He would design a world where we can have free will to make choices, a world that He knew would be infiltrated by sin (because of our choices), and a world where He knew that He would have to send His only Son to die in order to save sinners like me, even though I’m nobody. Why?

Because He loves us. He first loved us, and always will.2 Why does He do it? That’s the glory and mystery of it all!

 

1 – “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Genesis 2:2 (NIV)

2 – “We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19 (NIV); :neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:39 (NIV)

It’s not that hard!

Being a Christian is not that hard. Do you believe that? Or have you been taught otherwise?
“And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:3a-4
Sure, we know that some commands in the Bible are a little trying: like “turn the other cheek” when resisting evil. We also know that being a Christian does not exempt us from trials.
But here we are simply told that God’s Commandments are NOT burdensome. So if you feel that one is a burden to you, maybe a little prayer is in order.
Yesterday, I’m sure our sermon that included a reminder about “worrying being a sin” probably rattled a few people. That doesn’t mean it was a wrong teaching. While the Bible doesn’t specifically spell out worry as a sin, it does indirectly point out that worrying shows a lack of trust in God and His goodness, much less a disbelief or disobedience of Scripture.

Therefore, believe that being a Christian is not hard – for the Bible tells us so.

Short and Sweet

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
    God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Whoever the author and whatever the cause, this Psalm is a simple plea to God and us for 2 things:

1)      For God to bless and be gracious to us

We need to remember, however, that God owes us nothing, and it is only because of His love that can receive His blessings and forgiveness

2)      For us to praise and fear God

We also need to remember that we owe EVERYTHING to God. We should praise Him for all things. And when it comes to “fearing” God, it doesn’t mean to be afraid in a bad way, but to revere God and hold Him up with honor and indebtedness for what He has done for us.